Father Joseph G. Fonti decided to celebrate his 25th anniversary of ordination with a day out at the ballpark.
His fellow faculty, staff, students of Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst, where he is rector and president, joined him for the Mets-Giants afternoon game May 10.
Before the first pitch, Father Fonti arranged to celebrate Mass in the Citi Field Auditorium. Prior to the game, the group walked from their school campus to the ballfield to emphasize their closeness to thecommunity.
“All fathers want to take their sons to the ballgame, so today I am able to bring all my sons,” said Father Fonti.
“We walked to the stadium today to take in the community. The idea of the priest is to live a full life and be a part of the community and to share experiences.
“Today is about sharing my experience with them and showing them my life and have them consider that this is a life worth living for themselves. Life is just like baseball. There is the joy of hitting a home run and the sorrow of striking out. That is how life goes. There are highs and lows, but God gave me a good spirit and I have been able to live a full life and want to share that with these boys so that they too can live a full life in any direction that they choose to.”
Cathedral Prep Principal Richie Diaz was proud of his friend.
“Father Fonti has always talked about being one house and one family,” Diaz said. “So today the Cathedral Prep family, but more importantly, Father Fonti’s family, is here as one for him. Today is certainly a unique way for a priest to celebrate an anniversary, but I think that shows who Father Fonti truly is. He wants to be with the people that matter most to him.
“Being able to show our sense of community and to be able to celebrate in Queens means so much for all us because today is such a joyful day and we are able to do it right at home and all together.”
John Schilling, a junior, added, “The brotherhood aspect of today is very special because we can all be together and do something we all enjoy. When Father Fonti looks at us, he sees himself and wants to inspire us. Whether that is to the priesthood or not, he is always there for us.
“Father Fonti is probably the best thing that has happened to Cathedral Prep. He is a great teacher, mentor and great person to be around.”
After Mass, the students gave thejubilarian an official street sign with his name on it, connecting him, yet again, to the neighborhood.
Father Fonti closed by thanking everyone for coming and celebrating his anniversary with him. “Play Ball!” he exclaimed.